My friend Low from Grease Rag organized a trip out to Carver Park about 28 miles outside of Minneapolis this weekend. It was a lot of fun, we had 19 people on the ride which is a lot more people than I've been camping with in a long time. There was extra of pretty much everything that you would want, tons of good food and space in tents for people that didn't have tents. I was pretty happy that everything I had worked out for the most part, I didn't over pack or anything so riding out there was super easy. There were a lot of people hauling a lot more stuff though, I think we had a total of 4 trailers including a Bikes At Work pulled by a tandem loaded with gear. That group actually left before everyone else and met us out there, they left earlier than us to ride back too.
The route out to Carver was pretty easy, just take the Greenway out to Hopkins and then get onto the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail the rest of the way. The trail in that section is crushed limestone so it was dusty on the way out but kind of wet and muddy on the way back. This is because there were huge storms all last night blowing in, we were warned by a police officer that there were 60 mile an hour winds and half inch sized hail just a few miles away from us and they didn't know if it was going to hit us. I'd been watching the storms roll in on my phone so I already new there was weather but I didn't know how bad it was. We ended up being extremely lucky, we got heavy rain a couple of times for a few minutes at a time but for the most part the rain stayed just a light misting. There was a line of storms that we could see heading towards the northeast that was drawing a line right directly at our campsite but each cell in the chain kept passing us a couple of miles to either side or petering out before it hit us. I was really happy about that.
I really need to get some more gear for camping, I was missing a lot of stuff. Mostly I felt like I needed to have some stuff for eating food, I only brought a cup and a form and didn't have a plate or anything to cook with. I think that's probably going to be my next purchase, some cooking and eating utensils and a stove. If anyone has any recommendations they want to leave in the comments I'd appreciate it. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to need but nothing too fancy or expensive, functional and cheap without too much weight is what I'm looking for.
I think I'm probably going to pick up my own tent for the next trip as well. I'm not really sure what I'm looking for there either, probably just a roomy two person tent that will fit two people and some gear. I'm not sure if anyone is going to want to stay with me but it seems better to have the option for another person just in case there is anyone that I want to share a tent with. If not then it's just more room for me.
The new drive train on my Cannondale performed really nicely, though I was getting some slipping of the gears as the derailleur cable settled in and stretched, especially on the way home today. I also had to pick up a new helmet for the trip (and for regular use) because mine broke one of the plastic straps on the part that actually attaches it to your head so one side of it could just lift up like it wasn't attached at all which it wasn't. My small blinky light for my handlebars had also died about a week or two ago so I had to replace that as well. So I was out nearly a hundred dollars at the bike shop in order to do this trip.
I also bought a new sleeping mat for my sleeping bag. When I bought it the guy at the shop told me that this design was better because it has no padding on the back end of the bag so that you can slip a sleeping mat down the bag and then it insulates the back. This means you get a roomier bag with less material so it packs smaller and lighter. Seemed like a good idea, I had a sleeping mat that I had already ordered online so it seemed like a perfect solution. I bought it but then when I went camping last year it was too wide to fit down the back of the bag. It wasn't a big deal because it was super warm out. This time I went back to the place and bought the actual mat that fit the bag. Turns out this is also about a hundred dollars so I was out nearly 200 dollars to do this trip, probably more with incidentals. Seems like every time I go camping it costs a couple hundred dollars, next time will probably be more expensive. Thankfully I'm starting to get more gear for myself but it still hurts a little bit each time because I really don't like spending money all that much. Thankfully it at least means that I'm getting closer to being able to go bike camping on my own without needing to rely on other people for so much stuff. That's at least something. And this time the stuff I bought from the bike shop I'll be able to use all the time, I needed the helmet and light even if I didn't go camping.
We only had minor mechanicals on the trip, first off one person had a shoe rip the cleats out of the sole so she had to ditch her shoes and switch to sandals instead. Thankfully she had a spare pair of shoes. Then one guy found a flat tire at the actual campsite and we had another flat on the way back when we went to leave a dairy queen and coffee shop that we'd stopped at to use the restroom and get some sugar and caffeine. So not really much at all for problems, which was nice.
I ended up smoking pot four times on the trip, there were a couple people that brought some and could share. I don't really feel bad about smoking because I'm not quitting because I think I have a problem or that marijuana is bad for me. It's just a money thing that I have to figure out, if I could figure out some other way to afford it I probably would do that. It really showed how different my smoking is from other people's. Other people smoke a little bit and get high for a long time and are happy with that. I have to smoke much more and much more often in order to get any kind of effect from it. It takes a whole lot to ever get my brain off from whatever state it's in, even when I'm messed up on some drug I almost always have a 'core' that is sober and aware of everything and thinking clearly. It's hard to explain, but it's true. At any rate, I didn't actually smoke enough any of the times I smoked to actually make a difference in my brain.
Anyway, it was a fun weekend and I'm glad that I got out. I'm looking forward to going on the next trip towards the end of June, I'm just hoping that people want to go on the trip with me. The only thing that I really didn't like about the trip was being around a whole lot of drinking of beer. I found myself wanting to just take a break from quitting the drinking, to tell myself that it wouldn't really matter to just have a little bit, but I didn't.
And here's the rest of the story for friends and family. I guess really it wasn't even the drinking that made me uncomfortable, it was seeing just how different I am than everyone else. I felt like I didn't fit in with everyone else at all. Even when they were talking about food, I kept thinking about how different their relationship with it was than my own. Everyone else was all about the food, eating multiple meals a day and talking about first lunch and second lunch and all of that. I have to watch myself really closely to make sure I eat enough, I don't snack, I don't eat outside of my meal times very often, I just simply don't like food all that much.
The drinking was another aspect of that. I had to tell myself that it's because I'm different, because I don't have an "off" switch and that even a little bit is too much for me. But it was another reminder that I don't fit in with people, that I can't simply let loose and party, even when I was a drinking man I was never one to have fun or really enjoy myself when I was drinking. It was always something to help me keep feeling like myself. I was never able to just let go and be happy, I don't think I ever can in pretty much any situation. So it really made me feel like an outsider to be sitting around drinking lemonade when everyone else was just having fun and getting drunk.
I did a lot more thinking about the quitting too, and what my goals are with it. I think I have a better plan moving forward, if there's no real point in going to Portland. So really I should be thinking about what I can do to fix things here. I think one of the first things I want to do is figure out how to buy a house. So instead of saving to move I think I'm going to be saving for that. I feel like I could do a lot more if I simply had a better living situation.
So that's what I'm thinking. It will probably take me longer to save up the money for the down payment on a house than it would to move across the country but I still think I can do it. I say that now not even feeling that great about quitting for the few days that I've tried it. It should just get easier as I smoke it less and less. I think I'm probably going to pass on the next few times that I have the opportunity to smoke to give myself enough time to hopefully get my tolerance back down to regular human levels. Hopefully in a few months I can have a puff on a group ride or at a party and actually enjoy it a little and get high a little, rather than just having it make me remember what it is that I'm missing and make me crave it even more.
I also have a few ideas on how I can actually keep smoking in a few months and still save money, nothing I want to talk about or put online anywhere for anyone to read but I think I have some solutions. So this period of drying out might be even shorter than what I'm thinking it will be. That could make all of this a lot easier if it works the way I'm thinking it will. So I'm feeling pretty good about that too, that maybe I won't have to be dealing with stone cold sober for very long.